Of Children and Other Summonses
Sometimes Asami feels like she’s in a horror story. Not usually: most of her life is company politics and relatively legal financial theft. Enough difficulty and betrayal there to make it a very different genre. Tokyo’s monsters are of a different sort, and horror media was never to her taste. She enjoys the game, she’s good at it, the pieces of her soul she leaves on the way barely register as price.
Sometimes… Sometimes people ask her about her children — her three beautiful children in a far away school — and she shows videos and tells stories but has no memory of their hugs. If asked, she could find and show medical records of their birth. If somebody went to her apartment they’d see a small children’s room furnished and waiting for them to return from their foreign sojourn.
Four would have been better. Four carried privileges. Three children was just the minimum a woman had to raise to age five for full citizenship. (What else can the country do? say the wise men in power. The alternatives, to their eyes, were death by decrepitude or by the dilution of blood.) Three was enough to have theoretical access to any job. Two would have limited her. Having none – it didn’t bear thinking about.
Yes, four would have been ideal, but faking records for three was already risk enough. Sometimes Asami thinks people ask her out of suspicion, probing, and she has had to keep her lies consistent and detailed across the years: losing her job would be the least of what would happen if found out. Like every successful executive she’s a very good liar, yet it takes more than lying. She knows those children now, their personalities, their fears, their heart.
Sometimes she wakes up thinking she hears their voices from the fake room where nobody has ever slept.
But it’s not that sort of horror story.
Tomorrow’s the birthday of the middle one – she had almost forgotten. Somebody will ask about it and she’ll have to tell something about her early morning video call with somebody that doesn’t exist. Asami makes a mental note summarizing a conversation and then goes back to sleep.